As you can imagine, the world of Formula 1 is somewhat lacking in news these days, thanks to the global pandemic of Covid 19 (aka ‘Corona virus’) – therefore TJ13 will occasionally publish stories on other topical subjects loosely related to motorsport and F1, in a series called ‘Off-Topic’.
Inspiration into this addition on TJ13 was brought about by my reading of a very insightful story published on one of TJ13’s favourite motorsport’s websites (despite the obvious Red Bull backed bias), Austria’s Speedweek.com.
Yesterday one of their writers, Günther Wiesinger, writes an insightful article comparing the response to Covid-19 between the USA and the rest of the world and the probable catastrophic consequences by the policies of their president Donald Trump. Clearly there will be a significant impact on F1, but also the world economy in general.
TJ13 has used a combination of machine translation and human translation in the copy below. The original can be found via this link.
I make the point that my headline for this article is purely my take on the story, Wiesenger’s title is below.
Covid 19 crisis in America: recklessness with serious consequences
By Günther Wiesinger 28.03.2020
While the cries for help from the United States are getting louder and louder, America’s President Donald Trump continues to expose himself in the middle of the coronavirus disaster. This is worrying.
As motor sports enthusiasts are naturally concerned about the question of when the wave of infection in the various countries in Europe will peak, even in these terrible times, we take a look at the wider world every day. Because only if we take into account what is happening in China, America, India, Australia, Brazil, in Canada, in the USA and other countries and international hubs such as Singapore can we get a picture.
Thanks to our print history, the SPEEDWEEK.com editorial team has had a unique network of correspondents, photographers and freelancers at its disposal for decades, all of whom are widely travelled and cosmopolitan, largely free of strange ideologies and who observe and analyse the situation with a keen eye.
This global network is proving to be of immeasurable benefit in this phase of Covid 19 dissemination. It stretches from Indonesia and Malaysia via New Zealand to South Africa, from Brazil and Canada to Finland.
This provides us with timely news and reviews from many countries that play a relevant role in motorsport.
As we have editors and permanent freelancers in many departments who have been travelling non-stop to the world’s race tracks for years, we also have a direct line to important decision-makers, teams, drivers, organisers and sponsors.
That’s why we at SPEEDWEEK.com not only occasionally deliver news worth reading in winter (in the supposedly dead season), but also in times of a worldwide pandemic.
We collect information, analyze and comment on it.
That’s why we don’t pretend a senseless “best case” scenario to our users, but we try to educate and provide fact-based information.
Policy cannot be ignored
If sometimes political statements are mixed into the reporting, then I ask for forgiveness, because at the moment emotions are running high. Not only because everyone longs for the first day of normality, but also because in some countries the reaction was too late, which costs many lives.
Italy is the country I least blame, because at the end of February the epidemic was still being taken lightly by most people in Europe. And at that time, no one had any idea how strongly the virus had already established itself in northern Italy.
I myself stayed in Liguria, Italy, until 20 February for road bike training. Until then only 200 people in the whole country had tested positive.
At this point, I strongly recommend Donald Trump followers to skip the rest of the text and turn to another activity.
The fact is that the US head of government has been lying to his citizens on a daily basis for weeks. The United States has therefore already taken first place in the hit parade of most active Covid 19 cases.
After the first 15 confirmed cases in the USA, Trump still predicted that the haunting would be over in two weeks.
Trump announced on 25 March that the strict measures imposed in eight (of 50) states would be abandoned at Easter. “Because it is a beautiful date,” was the plausible explanation.
Only two days ago, Trump was still talking about the fact that there were only individual hotspots, there was no reason for concern.
At his daily press conference yesterday (live on CNN at 11pm), Trump wore a predominantly black tie for the first time, with delicate dark red stripes.
His unbearable appeasement program nevertheless reached a new high point.
Trump said that he had activated the Defence Protection Act (DPA), a kind of martial law, and that this would force the automobile giant General Motors to manufacture breathing apparatus. “They were reluctant, they wanted to make a lot of money with it, now we’re forcing them into production. We will make so many ‘fans’ that we can supply our friends in Britain, Italy, Germany and so on, in any quantity. I told GM to manufacture at the closed-down plant in Ohio.”
But the truth is different. General Motors sold the closed plant in Ohio in 2019.
GM has long since offered to manufacture the masks at cost. But production lines have to be rebuilt and high volume components bought in. GM’s CEO announced, “We hope to produce approximately 100,000 masks in 100 days.”
“We need them now,” the mayor of Los Angeles cries out for help. In his huge city the number of infected people has tripled in one week!
Trump also taped: “The authorities in New York have received a sufficient number of respirators from us. But they didn’t pick them up at the warehouse.”
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio responded immediately: “These 2500 masks are already in use. We need another 25,000. Today!”
Not only that. Respirators must be used by medical personnel in New York for five days already. Normally they should be destroyed after one day.
Even the closest advisors, governors and senators from his own party disagree with Trump. He is unsuspecting and “under informed”, they say. They diplomatically described Trump’s hope that the Easter spook will be over as “aspirational”, as ambitious.
Trump trumpeted yesterday: “No country has done more tests than the United States.”
The truth: In relation to the number of inhabitants, South Korea tested five times as much and Italy four times as much.
Trump occasionally spoke of a “horrible virus” yesterday.
He mourned the stock market crash for minutes instead of giving hope and leadership to his citizens.
He calls the deeply concerned Democratic governor of Michigan only “this woman”.
While even Trump’s Republican party friends say, “We’re in the middle of a hurricane,” and while dozens of nurses on TV are stirred up by the statement, “We’re going to war and we’re completely unarmed,” Trump publicly mourns the money that is supposedly slipping through his political career.
In addition Trump fantasized yesterday at prime time that America would conjure up a wonderful substance in a short time.
But the experts have been hounding us for weeks: It could take 6, 12, 18 months. And the hospital bosses in America are complaining: “Our hospitals are already bursting at the seams.”
“We are being attacked by an invisible enemy, we don’t even know yet whether it’s a flu or a germ,” Trump exposed himself yesterday on CNN to an audience of millions.
But in the three months since the Covid 19 outbreak in Wuhan, everyone who has been halfway through school has learned that a virus is not a flu, not a living being, not a germ; it is called a microorganism that cannot survive without a host. Viruses are programmed to introduce their genetic material into other cells in order to be able to reproduce. For this they need human mucous membranes, in the mouth or nose.
Up to now, the spread of the virus can only be effectively combated by keeping their distance, reducing social contacts (“stay at home”), banning major events, restricting their exit, draconian going out and so on. Up to the US crisis staff this insight has not yet been discussed. At the press conferences, six to eight people stand side by side on two square meters.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who already warned urgently of the danger of a pandemic at a congress in 2015, is only shaking his head. “The enemy was not invisible. He set out from China three months ago,” the farsighted billionaire interjected.
Yes, I understand the question what all these explanations have to do with motorsport.
Quite a lot.
Because the USA is the world’s biggest economic power. That’s why we know the slogan: When America sneezes, the rest of the world gets a cold.
It worries me when this largest trading partner has to close the borders indefinitely because of the presidential frivolity. After all, the car companies, motorcycle manufacturers and accessories companies, lubricating oil producers, tyre manufacturers and so on also generate a considerable proportion of their sales in the United States. A severe recession in the USA could also lead to an endless series of cancellations, team bankruptcies and retreats of factories and sponsors in motorsport, in all disciplines.
But Trump is still talking the talk of the world today.
“Our president is now a warlord,” an advisor stated yesterday.
“The mortality rate is low, only 0.5 percent,” Donald Trump stated yesterday.
As a real estate tycoon, he should at least know the basic arithmetic.
America has 330 million people. If only 50 percent of the population is infected and 0.5 percent dies, 825,000 people would be dead. Ten percent would still be 82,500.
In the medium term, this would probably have worse consequences than 9/11 and the global economic crisis of 2008/2009 combined.
Then, economic players around the world would be able to wear black ties.